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Signal Blip Sparks False Alarm for NASA's Opportunity Rover on Mars

The area just above Perseverance Valley, located on the edge of Mars, 14 kilometers wide (22 kilometers) Endeavor Crater, as…

The area just above Perseverance Valley, located on the edge of Mars, 14 kilometers wide (22 kilometers) Endeavor Crater, as seen by NASA’s Opportunity Rover in June 201

7. The opportunity has been quiet since June 10, 2018, after a dust storm drove this region in the dark.

Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell / Arizona State Univ.

No, NASA’s Opportunity Rover has not yet aroused from its long slumber on Mars.

The tension shook through Twitter last afternoon (November 15) as a word spreading NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN), the system of major radio signals that the agency uses to communicate with its fleet spacecraft may have picked up a ping from Opportunity.

That would have been a big deal, because Oppy has not checked since June 10th. Around that time boiling a large dust storm around solar rover blocks so much sunlight as Oppy could not charge the batteries and forced into a kind of hibernation. [Mars Dust Storm 2018: What It Means for Opportunity Rover]

But unfortunately, the hopes of space fans jumped fast.

“Today http://eyes.nasa.gov/dsn/dsn.html showed what looked like a signal from @MarsRovers Opportunity. As much as we “I want to say that this was a # OppyPhoneHome moment, further investigations show that these signals were not a transfer of opportunities,” officials at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, dealing with Opportunities missions, said via Twitter yesterday .

“Test data or false positive effects may make it appear that a given spacecraft is active at http://eyes.nasa.gov/dsn/dsn.html. We miss @MarsRovers Opportunity and would be happy to share a verified signal with you. Our work to restore comms continues, “JPL officials added to another tweet.

This work consists of both beaming commands to Opportunity and listens to any signals that the dignified rover can send home. NASA officials have said they will continue this “active listening” campaign at least in January.

The hope is that dust-covered solar panels are the only ones that keep Opportunity down and that strong winds will soon come through and blow the panels clean, eventually allowing the robot to power up again It is actually now the windy season in Oppy’s location – the edge of the 14 kilometer long (22 kilometer) Endeavor crater, just south of the Mars equator, NASA officials said.

The Mars dust storm that silenced Opportunity went global by June 20th, but a month or so later it had begun to die down. And in mid September the skiers over Endeavor Crater were clear to Oppys Managers decided to kick off the active listening campaign.

The opportunity landed on Mars in January 2004, a few weeks after the spirit of the twin, moved into another part of the red planet. The golf cart-rowers were tasked with looking for signs that floating water flows across Mars in the old past – and both found plenty of such evidence.

The spirit and opportunity were originally meant to stumble in just 3 months, but rovers turned out incredibly hardy. The spirit continued to roll until 2010, and Oppy did well before the dust storm flew up.

Mike Wall’s book about the search for alien life, “ Out There ” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018, illustrated by Karl Tate ) is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall . Follow us @Spacedotcom or Facebook . Originally published on Space.com .

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